Posted to Diigo 09/20/2010

    • I see learning as a social activity. I don’t care if you’re engaging with dead white men in a book, it’s still a conversation. (albeit one sided in that case)
    • We don’t learn much alone. We need to keep the focus of the discussion on the disaggregation of power, not the disaggregation of people
    • This kind of plurality, the kind of engagement with the network of knowledge on your own terms is about choice. The traditions of education are not so much about the student having choice but about the institution of education having choice (the LMS). This, in my mind, is the central distinction between PLE and LMS
    • When we disaggregate the power in education, we empower individual learners
    • try really hard to get presenters to be more effective, they produce excellent guides, tips and advice
    • the idea of a short paper presentation is to either inspire people to read the short paper in more detail or to undertake further reading
    • The presentation is not there to provide your audience with lots of bullet points, explanatory notes on methodology
    • ALT-C is not about the future it’s about the past
    • one of the problems with running a non-traditional conference is that it is then challenging for people to get the funding to attend
    • a new paradigm for learning that acknowledges that formal learning might need to be a preparation for informal learning rather than the other way around
    • educators should ask the questions, he said, and let the learners find the answers
    • despite being populated with over 400 of the best practitioners of learning technology around today, what did we actually achieve in concrete terms, what artefact, statement, decision, conclusion or prediction did we build?
    • This lack of what we might call ‘organised informality’ is a key failure of so many conferences, and fails to exploit what we might call the ‘cognitive surplus’ of such events
    • Collectively there was something in the order of 1000 work days at the conference
    • Even if  just a fraction of that had been harnessed in a more focused way, we could have done something amazing together
    • So here are some suggestions for future conferences.

      One: aggregate all of the content of the conference in real time to make a live, digital publication

    • Take a team of volunteers – student journalists perhaps- and produce a publication that takes the twitter feeds, blog posts, conference abstracts, live interviews with flip cams
    • Two: Instead of a ‘pub quiz social’ make one night of the conference more like a barcamp event, except with a theme – a bit like a pub lock in – you are not leaving here until you have done something useful – really dig down and debate an issue and come up with a document or something
    • Three: organise the lunch sessions more into themed discussions, and make them longer – say 2 hours – birds of a feather tables for example, or get the keynotes/invited speakers/presenters to each sit at a table and lead off a discussion, more of a knowledge cafe format
    • how the academic conference might be re-imagined
    • The idea is that the conference will last for 6 weeks, with a long initial period of online interaction culminating in the actual f2f event. Presenters will be asked to upload their papers and presentations well in advance of the conference, and the participants will be able to interact with them, post comments, read and absorb them etc well ahead of time. At the conference itself, the presenters will give just a short outline of their work and then lead an in-depth discussion of the issues it raises. This promises to really engage the audience, and should lead to a much deeper debate than usual.
    • if it was presented as a real opportunity for the presenters to get peer feedback on their work it could be sold to the management who might otherwise question the challenge to the traditional format
    • could help to bridge the gap between the ‘unconference’ style event and the more formal one

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.